Johnson & Johnson-sponsored documentary underscores global pandemic threats

Johnson & Johnson is the sole sponsor of CNN Films’ new documentary about a global pandemic that may be just around the corner. The film, “Unseen Enemy,” premieres Friday night on CNN for World Health Day.

Powerful and even frightening at times, the film is meant to encourage conversations about not only what the global health community, but everyone, can do to protect themselves and their communities from infectious diseases. Things like washing hands, getting vaccinated, going to the doctor and even just staying home from work when sick can make a difference, explains the film’s director, Janet Tobias, in an interview on J&J’s website.

Johnson & Johnson’s sponsorship syncs with its global health mission, a spokesman said via email.

“We are the world’s most broadly-based healthcare company, making us uniquely positioned to address and impact such critical global health issues, and we believe it is our responsibility to help make a positive impact on the world around us,” he said.

The company has been promoting “Unseen Enemy” on internal social media and digital channels for more than a week, including on Facebook and Twitter. It has also been running digital ads on CNN.

Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, narrates the opening of the trailer for the film on YouTube, talking about how he was a young doctor in Africa when the AIDS crisis struck and saw how a virus could “devastate entire populations.”

Unseen Enemy will be replayed on April 15, again with limited interruptions thanks to J&J’s sponsorship, and will be available beginning on Saturday on CNNgo. Johnson & Johnson's global public health initiatives center on HIV treatment, maternal health and tuberculosis. J&J also took on the challenge of Ebola in West Africa with clinical vaccine trials that began in 2015.

Stoffels calls the film “compelling and urgent.” 

Indeed, as epidemiologist Larry Brilliant says in the film, “If we do nothing, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ there will be a global pandemic, it’s just a matter of when.”